Q: (A question on the youth at the WR position this year)
Drew Tate: A lot of them are learning. To me, that can be a good thing. When I was a sophomore, I was learning as we were going too. When you're learning and thinking about other things, you're not thinking about the things you shouldn't be thinking about, which is a good thing. You might have seniors that have been good and can do it, but they might be thinking about other things. Outside of the game, outside of practice, things like that. I like young players because their focus is all about getting better. They're not worried about what's going on at night, they're not worried about other stuff on the field. In the complex, they're worried about doing their thing, because they don't know any better. I think that's going to be a good thing for us.
Q: This team, will they need an Ed Hinkel kind of presence or do they need a receiver to do like Ramon Ochoa and just blossom?
Tate: I don't think we need anything. I think we just need guys who are willing to pay the price and do whatever it takes. Just play the best they can play. That's all you can ask for from anyone. If it's not good enough, it's not good enough. If someone plays the best they can, it's usually pretty good. They wouldn't be here if they weren't that good.
Q: You talked about having fun, what are the most fun parts of being the quarterback on this team, a quarterback in college football?
Tate: Well, I'm pretty sure there's a few people in Iowa who'd want to be me, the quarterback of Iowa. Not saying that arrogantly or anything, but you know. When I was coming in before my freshman year, in Texas, you can go (mentions a summer vacation activity, unknown) instead of come up (to Iowa) for the summer, cause it was my last summer. He said "How many people can go out drinking every night? Hundreds. How many people can be the quarterback at the University of Iowa?" That put it into perspective. I have a microscope on me all the time. I'm looked at a lot by a lot of different people. My teachers, professors, other students, things like that. It's a good thing. Not only for me, but for every athlete, especially all over the Big Ten, all over the country.
Q: What about the game makes it fun for you?
Tate: Being on TV, playing in front of the crowds, I think college football is the best thing, probably, in the country. I'm pretty sure it's the most watched thing. I couldn't imagine anything else.
Q: How about during the 60 minutes of the game itself? What does it for you?
Tate: Just being able to compete. That's what it's all about.
Q: What effect do you think the rules changes with the clock starting earlier will have on how you have to manage a game, especially late in a half?
Tate: We'll just have to speed everything up, I think. I haven't really thought about it. I'm sure that'll be brought up in camp, but that's something that we'll just have to speed up. We can't take our time in the huddle, can't take our time on the sideline during a change of possession, that stuff.
Q: Do you think your intangibles are more important than your 40 time, the fact that you're 6 feet tall?
Tate: Definitely. I knew a quarterback a long time ago in high school who couldn't throw the ball over 40 yards, but he completed over 70% of his passes and his team won like 15 games. The 40 time, height, it's really irrelevant. What it comes down to is playing. If you get the job done.
Q: How much did your background, your step dad being the coach, how much has that played a part in the player that you are, as far as the intangibles?
Tate: It was a big part. Growing up, if your dad's Bill Gates, you're going to know a lot about computers, stuff like that. He's going to teach you all this stuff about micro-bits or whatever. I don't even know anything about computers, just an analogy I'm kind of throwing out. Brian Ferentz, he knows the game really good because of Kirk. It just kind of passes down. If you're interested in it, which I was interested in football, which he was, he'd help me.
Q: What are your earliest memories of being around your dad's teams, when did you really decide this is what you wanted to do?
Tate: I was like, always a ball boy, so I just remember a lot of things. Guys on the team, games, plays, visiting stadiums, locker rooms, things like that.
Q: Is this something that you're going to want to continue after you're done playing? Nobody knows after this year what's going to happen, you may end up being an NFL guy for 10 years. Is this something you want to stay around, or do you have something else?
Tate: This is it. This is all I've been around my whole life, all I know really. My brother's a high school coach back home, both my brother's are, my dad.
Q: What level do they coach, High School?
Q: In Texas?
Q: Are you thinking you'd want to be a college guy?
Tate: Yeah, I'd like to start in college, then go from there.
Q: Every year I come to these things and guys say they don't think about the NFL, all they do is think about the present. Is that just being politically correct or is that the truth?
Tate: Some players. Guys that have a real shot. I don't think, personally, I'll get drafted. I think I'll get a shot, and that's all I can ask for at the next level.
Q: You don't think you'll get drafted?
Tate: No, I don't think I'll get drafted.
Q: Why not?
Tate: Well, from learning, you know. The draft's a big deal, they... well, actually, I don't know. My opinion is, they just draft on times and stuff like that from the combine. Yeah, the field, but I think when you get paid really the most money is when you have the best times, things like that. Running, jumping, height, weight, things like that.
Q: Do you think you'd have a better shot if you were 6'4"?
Q: I guess you can't do much about that.
Q: Do you allow yourself to think about it, though, about playing in the NFL?
Tate: You know, I really don't. I swear to god I don't. A lot of guys say that and are being politically correct. My dream growing up was to be a college quarterback, not an NFL quarterback. This atmosphere and this game, I just like it a lot better. That's because I don't know what the NFL's like, I haven't experienced it, I don't know anything about it. Maybe it's better, I don't know. I just know up to present day, I've been involved in the best thing ever.
Q: How is playing in Iowa, the reality, compared to what you thought it might be? You were taking a pretty big gamble leaving the state, going to a bit of an unknown. How has it panned out, reality vs what you thought?
Tate: It's pretty much everything I'd imagined. I mentioned earlier, in Iowa there's no pro sports, this is all they've got. People are crazy about Coach Ferentz and the Hawks and everything like that. They have a passion for it. I have a passion for them and for Iowa, really. It's just special. It really is a special place. Not a lot of people know it, given the location, I think. It's keeping Coach Ferentz there, and it's got to be doing something right.
Q: What do you think when you see little kids running around with #5 jerseys?
Tate: It's cool, it really is. It's a reflection on my teammates. Without them, that wouldn't have happened. Same for the coaching staff. People involved in the program, where I've gotten to today, it's all them, really.
Q: What do your teammates say about the #5 jerseys?
Tate: They don't really say much. Nobody's ever really talked to me about it.
Q: They don't rib you about it or anything?
Tate: If they do, I don't hear about it.
Q: Probably will be some 21 jerseys this year.
Tate: Yeah, there should be. Nobody says anything really.
Q: You talked about Iowa being a special place and the love they have for the Hawks. Is that something you saw on your recruiting visit or did it not become apparent until you immersed yourself?
Tate: I saw it on my recruiting visit. I saw that firsthand. This was right before they were going to the Orange Bowl, so these people were just going crazy.
Q: Who were the other schools you were thinking about after Texas A&M?
Q: Did it kind of shock you once RC (Slocum) was let go, did it mess your whole plan to go there?
Tate: Yeah, it was. I didn't have much time. I had like a month and a half to figure out where I was going.
Q: What was it about Coach Slocum at A&M that you liked?
Tate: Well, I felt that they really wanted me. They offered me after my sophomore year. I figured, things like that, at that time, was huge to me. A&M was only 2 hours away from my driveway. They just got Coach Kevin Sumlin who became offensive coordinator, who came from Purdue. That's where I wanted to go to begin with. He brought the passing game over and I was real happy about that.
Q: Last year, there was some criticism that you tried to do too much. Did you take that as an insult, or just a guy trying to do everything to help his team win?
Tate: No. I think I did try to do too much, and if I didn't complete every pass I wanted, I'd get frustrated. I think that's because of the age I was. I was like 20 and my name was put up in all these places and things like that, I didn't know how to handle it. Now I know how to handle it. It'll be a lot smoother, I think.
Q: Was it just having to go through it, is that why you're able to handle it now?
Tate: To me, I think so. Other people can handle it real early, I'm not making any excuses, but that's just the way I felt.
Q: Was it hard, coming in, kind of asserting yourself. You didn't red shirt, you got a lot of respect from a lot of guys for that, your command in the huddle. Is that something that just kind of comes naturally to you?
Tate: I think so, I really do. Yeah.
Q: Tell us about the infamous Matt Roth tackle.
Tate: Well, I don't know. A lot of people blow it up. It really wasn't much. There was like a ball on the ground, he just picked it up. I went over there and I think I just hit him like wrapped up. I think he was stumbling or something and just went down. I think, I don't even remember, to tell you the truth.
Q: Do you think that's helped the legend of Drew Tate?
Tate: I don't think so. Probably through the spectators, but not to people in the program.
Q: I think Matt was a little surprised.
Tate: Yeah, probably.
Q: There are 9 starting quarterbacks returning. You don't really scout their side of the ball, but I'm sure you're aware of what they're doing.
Tate: There's a bunch of different quarterbacks in this conference. Different personalities, different systems, things like that. I just feel like it's not my place to judge and critique them when they're doing the best they can. They're having success as well as the Big Ten is having success. I wish them all luck. If they're on, I'll watch them, like on regular TV, but I'm not just critiquing them, I'm watching everything.
Q: If you could take one thing from one of them, would you rather be 6'5", or what would you take?
Tate: Yeah, I'd take that. The height.
Q: Do you think your height has held you back?
Tate: I think it probably held me back in the recruiting process coming out of high school. A lot of people said that they didn't think my arm was strong enough. It might not be to some people, I don't know. I've always heard good things from guys I've thrown to, so...
Q: With so much experience now in the huddle, how comfortable do you feel back there now?
Tate: I feel real comfortable. It just takes experience to feel comfortable. That's with everything in life, pretty much. We come to a routine, it's a comfortable feeling. You just feel comfortable with it.
Q: When you're in the huddle, is there a play that comes in or plays that come in and you go "OK, here we go." Is there a favorite play you've got?
Q: Just staying within the scope of the game plan?
Q: Would you consider yourself more of a gambler, if you see your receiver get a step on their defender would you go to him at the same time a tight end is open, or just stay with what the coaches want, or a little of a gambler in you?
Tate: Yeah. I'm sure it's in everybody. As a quarterback, you just want to complete passes, move the chains and not turn the ball over. Like you said, if I think the guy's got a step on someone, I'll get him the ball. If the tight end's open, I'll get him the ball. It's just moving the ball, really.
Q: You've had some close games in your career, the bowl game you won in the final play, Michigan overtime loss, one way or the other. In your mind, are there a couple factors that go into that thin line between winning and losing that way? What might make a difference between going out and winning those games and not?
Tate: It comes down to how you handle yourself in those situations. Are you playing smart, are you not, are you managing the clock well, are you not?
Q: Is there a way that teams or players can prepare to do that?
Tate: It's hard to simulate in practice. I think you just have to learn from any experiences and game situations.
Q: If you have success, does that build on itself at all? Do you find yourself in a position where you've been able to win a game or two like that, is that something you learn from?
Tate: Yeah, I think so. Definitely.